Tomatoes have a kind of nervous system that warns about attacks

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Cherry tomato plants

Cherry tomato plants have a kind of nervous system

Shutterstock / Digihelion

Tomatoes that are being eaten by insects use electrical signals to send an alert to the rest of the plant, similar to the way our nervous systems warn of damage.

The messages seem to help the plant muster defences such as releasing hydrogen peroxide, a reactive chemical that combats microbial infections of damaged tissues, a study has found.

Human nervous systems use specialised cells called neurons to send electrical signals between different parts of the body. Plants lack neurons, but they do have long, thin tubes called xylem and phloem for moving sap between their roots, leaves and fruit. Charged ions flowing in and out of these tubes can propagate electrical signals around different parts of the plant in a…

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